Sunday, 30 October 2016

Moving to Windsor Racecourse Marina - Day 2

After a good night's rest at Marlow we were up quite early to get underway. It was quite misty and really quiet as we set off at about 8:30.

We weren't the only fools on the river!

This photo looks more like a watercolour painting!

A couple of obligatory photos of lovely houses!

No room to stop at the Ferry, Cookham.

I don't know what type of boat this is but it's always sad to see someone's pride and joy in such a state.

I didn't take any photographs at Cookham Lock, so I've skipped forward to Boulter's, good to see someone keeping a lookout in the lock cut!

Boulter's Lock was on self-service (as many others were over the weekend) which isn't a problem but it is huge and takes a while to pass through, especially with just the 2 of us.

It took a while but we were through by 10:30 - but to our surprise there was a line of boats waiting to come through the other way and not one of them had bothered to come and lend a hand! They'd have been on their way quicker if they'd helped!

We motored on past Maidenhead and under the sounding arch at the railway bridge, went through Bray Lock without a hitch and we were nearly there. All  we had to do was look out for the 'unmissable sign' that was at the entrance to the millstream, leading into the marina. Someone else was keeping a beady eye on us as well!

We passed under the M4, then the remains of the Monkey Island Hotel, Bray Studios, Oakley Court Hotel but no 'unmissable sign'! When we saw Boveney Lock ahead we realised we must have passed it so we turned around and headed back.

Ta da! The unmissable sign we'd foolishly missed!

I took 10 or 15 minutes to weave our way along the millstream and we were pleased we didn't meet anyone coming the other way.

And then we were there! Life's too Short was allocated a berth next to Bayside Dream (Keith's V295, boat number 2!) and we were moored up by midday.

When we went to sort out the paperwork - there on the sales pontoon was V295 number 3 up for sale, so for a short while at least all 3 Viking 295s built so far were in the same place.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Moving to Windsor Racecourse Marina - Day 1

After spending the spring and summer at Thames and Kennet marina and managing to get all the way to Lechlade we decided to move to Racecourse Marina to see what the other end of the Thames is like. It's another of Tingdene's marinas so we could swap for no charge.

We had some vague plans of using the boat during the winter (subject to lock closures) and possibly visiting the tidal section of the river, bit for now we just needed to get Life's too Short to her next home.

We arrived and were ready to set off before 10 (unusual for us!) on a grey, murky morning. We didn't know whether we'd get to Racecourse today or moor up a bit earlier and finish the journey in the morning.

By 10:25 we were through Sonning Lock and safely under the bridge.

The river was really quiet and a little after 11 we were through Shiplake Lock.

As always along this stretch of the river we admired some of the lovely houses, I lose count of how many photographs of the same places we have!

Soon we arrived at Marsh Lock with it's long wooden bridge connecting it to the Oxfordshire riverbank.

The very familiar sight of Henley was next, we cruised by the lovely park and then under the old stone bridge (which cost £10,000 to build at the end of the 18th century!).

As we needed up towards Temple Island I commented that the 'Tour de Henley' cycle race was not proving to be very popular this year - Caroline just gave me that knowing frown!

Temple Island complete with folly and nymph is owned by Henley Regatta and marks the start of the famous regatta course.

Next up was Hambledon Lock, this one has slightly different controls to the majority and took a little while to fathom out.

This looks like a remarkable property, I wonder what the story is behind the integrated ruined tower on one end?

Hurley Lock came and went in a flash (or rather I didn't take any photos) and very soon after Temple Lock appeared where we were followed in by a very large boat!

It was 14:10 when we left Temple Lock, so we decided that we would stop at Marlow for the night and finish the trip in the morning. On the approach to Marlow we spotted a very modern looking houseboat that appears to be a conference room, looks quite out of place here.

Marlow is a very familiar sight with the church and old suspension bridge (which was closed to traffic for repairs at this time CLICK for a link to the details)

And then Marlow Lock, the last for today.

The moorings below the lock tend to be a bit quieter than those on the park plus it meant there was one less lock to navigate in the morning.

A short stroll for dinner at The Two Brewers (which was recommended to us by Pam back at T&K Marina - and we are also happy to recommend!) and then an early night for us.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

First Holiday Onboard! Day 8

October 19th 2016

Today was the last day of our first holiday on Life's too Short and we only had 2 hours to go to get back to Thames and Kennet Marina.

After a breezy night we woke to calm weather and a glass-like river Thames. We were soon ready to head off from Pangbourne meadow down stream towards Mapledurham lock and pleasantly surprised to discover it was manned.

Mapledurham Lock filling

Mapledurham Wier
Once through Mapledurham there aren't really any places that I'd like to moor overnight - a few 'slum boats' dotted around this stretch hogging the moorings. Reading is a bit better than it was many years ago having had lots of development along the river, the park looks like a place I might consider stopping overnight at.

Caversham lock was also manned and Lady Elizabeth from Kris Cruisers was coming through the other way so we didn't have to wait long.

Caversham Lock
We passed through Caversham Lock without incident and then we were on the home straight. Again there aren't many great moorings along this stretch, many are taken up by long term live-aboards, especially around the entrance to the Kennet and Avon and along the towpath near Tesco. If I was looking for a mooring I'd go on to Sonning, it's a bit nicer there and not far to go.

Entrance to the Kennet and Avon
Then we were back. 2 hours since leaving the meadow we were back at our marina ready to give the boat a quick clean and pack our things to go back to the hustle and bustle and the faster pace of life. Being on the river is a really good way to slow down for a bit and to de-stress, we can't wait until we get the chance to get back on board.

Thames and Kennet Marina

So what did we learn on our first proper trip?

  • Overhanging branches are tougher than the canvas our canopy is made from
  • Most other boaters are really friendly
  • Only use battery 2 at night, battery 1 is for engine starting only
  • It is possible to live on digestives, cheddars and wine for a short while
  • The gelcoat on our boat is about the same thickness as an eggshell and nearly as strong
  • It was well worth buying a spare toilet holding tank
  • Lock-keepers are wonderful people, we need to look after them
  • There's no obvious place to go shopping between Oxford and Lechlade
  • There's no such thing as 'too many' fenders, we're going to add more!
  • Kingfishers only appear when they know you haven't got a camera handy
  • Fishermen always want to fish by the bank on the opposite side of the river
  • Grass snakes swim very well